Since I am all about giving back to my readers I have added a little something special to the Opaite; a little something I like to call Funkywood Jamz! This little Flash object lets me stream tunes from my super-secret internet headquarters right into your house and so, from time to time, I will be changing up the mix of songs I am brining to you, the masses. When I change the songs I will post the play list here and talk a little about why I chose each song or something along those lines. Now let us begin our first journey into sound in a mix I like to call my Big in Japan Mix.
1. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – Beat Crusaders (and in English)
I discovered this band while browsing in the Tower Records in Shibuya, which did not suffer the same fate as the other Tower Records in the world and thus is still open (and a pretty bad ass record store.) This is the first song off their CD titled, appropriately enough, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” So far all of their songs I have heard feature lyrics in English, making it easy for us gaijin to follow along and the couple of YouTube clips lead me to believe these guys would be a blast to see live, so much so that I am considering planning my next trip to Japan with the intent of getting to see them in concert.
2. Cutey Honey – Koda Kumi (and in English)
I found Koda Kumi when someone posted her video for Shake It! to one of the bitorrent sites I used to frequent. In the next couple of sentences I am going to try to convince you that there are more reasons for me to listen to Koda Kumi however the reason I got into her stuff is because she is a full-blown hottie. After watching the video a couple of times I found myself humming Shake It! which falls firmly into the realm of hip-hop, and decided to seek out some more of Koda’s work and the very next thing I stumbled on was her recoding of the theme song for the live-action version of Go Nagai’s classic anime and manga. The only reason I included it here rather than use Shake It! was that I thought the sound of Cutey Honey worked a bit better with these other songs.
3. Stereo Nights – Takkyu Ishino
I pulled this song from the second entry in Sony’s Japan for Sale series of sampler CDs in which Sony pimps various Japanese artists to the dirty American devils. Takkyu Ishino also has tracks on volume 3 of the series and volume 1 of the Japan Not For Sale samplers. His music harkens back to the synth-pop of the ‘80s, a sound which I enjoy to an almost embarrassing degree. (The fourth volume of the Japan for Sale CDs, now being sold by Tofu Records, which I believe is a Sony imprint.)
4. Black Out Fall Out – Polysics
This song came from volume 3 of the Japan for Sale series and is included because it falls into the same vein as the above song.
5. Sunday People – Supercar (and in English)
With this song I wanted to pull back from the frontiers of electornica and get into more traditional guitar-driven pop/rock. This version of the song comes from Japan Not For Sale Vol. 1 however it is also available on their first CD titled Three Out Change.
6. Shangri-La – Denki Groove
Enough of that rock crap, lets make this first entry in the soon-to-be-legendary history of Funkywood Jamz FUNKY. That’s what Denki Groove brings to the mix; that and another shot of Takkyu Ishino. This track was also liberated from Japan Not For Sale Vol. 2.
7. World Wide Love Song – Lab Life
And here, in Lab Life’s "World Wide Love Song", we find a pretty good middle ground between synth-pop and guitar rock. Sadly I am not able to find anything about the band Lab Life, so all I can tell you is that this track comes to you from Japan Not For Sale Vol. 2 (apparently I liked this CD a lot) and is also available on the bands CD World’s End.
8. Goodbye and Good Luck – the brilliant green
I wanted to slow things down here at the end of the “mix” and I am a sucker for bands where the front-man is a woman therefore this track from the brilliant green. Seeing as how they made Time’s list of top contemporary acts from outside the U.S. (what a pretentious sort of list to have floating around, btw) along with groups like U2, Radiohead, Ziggy Marley, and Portishead, my taste in music can’t be that off. This is yet ANOTHER track from the overused Japan Not For Sale Vol. 2 but also appears on the trio’s eponymous freshmen effort.
9. Love, Do You Remember? – Mari Iijiima (as Lynn Minmei)
This is for all the otaku out there! When my fascination with all things Japan was in its larval stages one of the few sources of Japanese pop culture that was available to me was a pirated copy of the movie Super Dimensional Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?, more popularly know in the States as Macross Summer ’84. Minmei sings this song during the climactic battle to save humanity and for a young boy the battle scenes were pretty awesome. Since I have always been into music I tried to make a soundtrack for the movie by connecting a tape recorder to the audio outputs on the VCR. It was a crap recording but I wore it out from listening. There is no way I could put together a mix of J-pop and not include at least one song from that tape. Incidentally this version is pulled from the three-disc Macross: The Complete collection.
10. Big In Japan – Alphaville
Now if any of the regular readers are in the least bit surprised to find this song on here please let me know in the comments. I will dispatch a team of monkeys to beat some sense into you in the near future. This song is here for the joke and because I honestly like the song.
That’s it for the inaugural edition of Funkywood Jamz!, which, in case you are curious, is also what I named my iPod. Check back in a few weeks when I offer up more music with pretty bad commentary. Until then keep on rockin’ in the free world!
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